Type: Trad, 400 ft, 3 pitches
FA: Tony Yaniro & Randy Leavitt
Page Views: 1,922 total · 60/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on Aug 31, 2016
Admins: Matthew Fienup, Muscrat, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

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The Nautilus is yet another Needles classic. This one seems to have languished in obscurity for awhile - perhaps due to its difficulty, old dangerous hardware, and hidden location? An anecdotal story in Alex Honnold's memoir about a terrifying experience probably didn't do it any favors, either. But no more: All the old hardware has been replaced and, at least with an attentive belay, it is actually quite safe.

The climbing is varied and physical - offering a burly overhanging enduro finger crack on the first pitch, brilliant chimneying on the second pitch, and wild stemming capped by a crux boulder problem on the third pitch - many aspects of your game will be challenged by this formidable route. And if that doesn't leave you grinning from ear-to-ear, the perfect rock and exposed location will. In the present age where even average climbers are sending 5.12 on gear as their warmup, this route should definitely see more ascents - it is brilliant!

(*) Please recon the route from the Warlock prior to a spring/summer ascent to see if the peregrine nest is occupied. If it is, save it for the fall.

Approach: Descend the Sorcerer-Witch notch down to the Necromancer. Scramble up the gully that separates the Witch and Necromancer - you'll eventually be forced out left onto a ladder of water runnels which can be easily soloed up to the south face of the Witch (5.4 X). Traverse around the corner to the east to gain a perfect, exposed belay ledge (gear anchor). This spot is immediately right of the start of Terrorvision (maybe use that as a warmup?) and can also be reached by climbing one of the routes on the lower west face of the Witch if you're not in a hurry or don't want to solo up the Witch-Necromancer gully.

P1 (5.12b, 90'): Climb a difficult finger crack that is broken up by a few good rests. A final cruxy section culminates in a powerful corner-switch to the left and an off-balance lieback up to a bolted anchor at a stance.

P2 (5.11, 100-140'): Climb up a flake in a tight corner and then squeeze up a slot (secure but unprotected) until forced out by a roof (good gear here). Chimney up the corner until level with two bolts that lead straight right to a comfortable belay ledge. You have a choice here: You could attempt the well-protected but difficult slab moves to get to this belay ledge, you could just aid across to it, or you could forgo the ledge and continue upwards. If do you continue, you'll have more 5.11 chimneying to reach a hollow flake protected by two bolts. Above this is an alcove that is home to a seasonal peregrine nest(*). Set up an awkward hanging belay here. Alternatively, you could stop here and lower down from this spot to the previously mentioned belay ledge and then repeat this last stretch of climbing as a part of the next pitch. NB: Unable to free the slab over to the belay ledge, and unwilling to subject myself and my partner to the uncomfortable peregrine nest alcove belay, I prefer this latter strategy.

P3 (5.11 V4, 80-120'): From wherever you chose to belay, continue up the corner system past the peregrine nest alcove, and up the corner above. Here the corner opens up into an elevator shaft style chimney which, if you're flexible, you can bridge wildly until it's possible to commit to the slabby right wall. A tenuous stance here allows you to clip a high bolt at the lip of a bulge which guards the top. Once clipped, execute a difficult boulder problem to get over the bulge and tiptoe up to the shoulder of the Witch. A bolted anchor on a boulder is encountered immediately upon topping out. Note that it is a good idea to have an attentive belay for this boulder problem as a fall might land you back onto the slab below. Also, while there is gear above the boulder problem it is a bit tricky so keep your head together.

Descent: Summit the Witch and descend the standard way down the north face.

(*) Please recon the route from the Warlock prior to a spring/summer ascent to see if the peregrine nest is occupied. If it is, save it for the fall.


Upper east face of the Witch. More or less directly opposite the Spell and the Romantic Warrior.


2x tiny to 0.75 Camalot.
3x 0.3 & 0.4 Camalots.
1x #1, #2, #3 Camalots (all optional but recommended if onsighting).
A set of wired stoppers from "largish RP size" on up.
Many slings and draws.
GabrielKoybz   Brooklyn
First pitch anchor consists of two new SS bolts. All the other bolts on the route are also updated. Thanks to whoever replaced them!

It seemed odd to attempt to step out right past those bolts midway up p2. Kinda like an optional crux? I continued in the corner past them and up to the belay at the nest. I would recommend this - it makes for an incredible 40m pitch of physical and well protected stemming on perfect rock.

I’m not sure I agree with the R rating - once I was over the final roof and standing on my feet I found good gear options that protected the top-out moves just fine. I guess if you slipped while placing the gear it wouldn’t be much fun. There is a bolted anchor on the large boulder where you top out.

An amazing, memorable route. Afternoon shade.
Enjoy! Aug 6, 2018
Josh Janes

  5.12 PG13
Josh Janes    
  5.12 PG13
A little bit of trivia: Apparently when Yaniro freed this he believed the key hold on the boulder problem to be a pin scar and he didn't like it. So he went back and did the route again, this time finishing it by traversing the slab all the way to the right and then doing a hideous mantle to surmount the bulge - but not without first taking at least one rope-shredding, swinging fall from the final moves. There is a hard-to-spot quarter inch bolt way out right over there... though I'm unsure whether or not this was a part of Yaniro's variation finish. Dec 20, 2018